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Scammers offer facemasks but don’t deliver

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If there’s a high demand online for health and safety items, like facemasks and paper products, guess what scammers pretend to sell? That’s right: health and safety items, like facemasks and paper products.

Since the beginning of March, dozens of people, including healthcare workers, have told the FTC they paid online stores for facemasks and toilet paper but didn’t get anything. Most people said the scammers took their money and then ghosted them by cutting off all contact, refusing to answer questions, or closing or deactivating their online store websites.

Before you order from an unfamiliar online store, consider these tips to help avoid a scam:

  • Check out the company or product by typing its name in a search engine with terms like “review,” “complaint,” or “scam.” See what other people say about it. Read the seller's description of the product carefully. If the seller has name-brand goods at steeply discounted prices, they might be fakes.
  • Look at the terms of the sale. Calculate the total purchase price, including taxes, shipping, and handling. Find out when you can expect your delivery. By law, sellers should ship your order within the time stated in its ads, or within 30 days if the ads don’t state a time. If you have to return the item, can you get a refund? Who pays for return shipping? Is there a restocking fee?
  • Pay by credit card. You’ll get protections under federal law, so you don’t have to pay for merchandise you ordered but didn’t get. If a business charged your account too soon, and didn’t deliver the merchandise on time, you can dispute the billing error and report it to your credit card company.

If you have a problem with an online purchase, you can try to work it out with the seller, but remember: you have the right to dispute a billing error directly with the credit card issuer. And if you suspect a scam, tell the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint. For more for more tips, blogs, and videos about avoiding Coronavirus-related scams, visit ftc.gov/coronavirus.

Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit

Comments

Why doesn't the FTC publish the names of the scamming companies in their articles ?? Sure would help us to avoid those companies.

Knowing the name of a site isn't always the best way to avoid a scam. Scammers may open - and close - sites quickly, or change the name of a site. That's why we offer tips you can use every time you shop, for every site.

Is there any reason people who have been scammed can't share the names of scammer sites here? The site names may change but not providing the names is too much like doing nothing. I am waiting for masks and have a bad feeling I have been scammed because their site says they ship in 7 to 10 days but AFTER ordering I got a message that they don't know when they will ship. Now I have to order from somewhere else because I am in a state that requires masks in public places and can't wait forever. License to steal!

By law, if a seller can't ship within the promised time, it must notify you, give a revised shipping date and give you the chance to cancel for a full refund or accept the new shipping date.

The seller must give you a way to exercise the cancellation option for free — for example, by giving you a prepaid reply card or staffing a toll-free telephone number. 

If you don’t respond, and the delay is 30 days or less, it’s assumed that you accept the delay and are willing to wait for the merchandise.

Read more about your rights in this FTC article.

CAUTION! This company wants you to pay now and wait 2-6 weeks for the product. Read the "Terms & Conditions" carefully. The use lots of words to suggest you cannot cancel an order or return an order without jumping through several hoops.

Important: Don't try calling the "order" number. You'll get locked into an endless loop with the same "I'm sorry, all customer service reps are helping other customers" blah, blah, blah. We called at 2:00AM just see if they had 24 Customer Service. They don't. We called 9AM. Same result. It's now 11:12AM and the endless loop continues.

Summary: This sounds too good to be true and by the time you take them up on the "free" offer you're closing out at around $30.00 for a grand total of 20 masks. Careful wording makes it appear as if one (1) order is 20 masks and if you double order you'll get another 20 masks plus "an extra 10" for a total of 50.

You'll be out $30. for 20 masks you can probably find at the local pharmacy store. No, we did not order. When we were unable to speak with a "live agent" to verify costs and quantity we decided against going further. Avoid!

One company will tell you that mask is made in USA but the tracking system says it comes from UK. Mask came after a month. Mask did not have any labels on it. No made in USA or kind of fabric use. I think it is Made in China and they use an American company's name to make it look like they are from USA.

I was promised a quick delivery by 2 retailers on Amazon. One Chinese company was honest enough to rescind the order, telling me they could not fill it. The other has offered to allow me to cancel. I have waited 6 weeks, so I will!

Ordered TP and disinfecting wipes on line. Company listed as OKHOMEONLINE in US but charge went to totally different name: Fabfashion ltd. Have not received anything-web site does not exist. Also ordered masks from different company listed as Tarzana, Ca but again charge went to international company. I have learned my lesson. No more ordering. :(

You can help law enforcement by reporting that to the FTC at www.FTC.gov/Complaint. The information you give goes into a secure database that the FTC and other law enforcement agencies use for investigations.

This happened to me twice, once on Amazon and once on Etsy. I was able to work with both and PayPal in getting refunds

Thank you for all the information i receive !! I sure hope people follow all that you inform us and don't get scammed by these heartless people!! stay safe and thank you again!!

I bought some masks that I knew were coming from China through Walmart online. They were delayed and delayed again and the tracking never was updated after the masks got to the US PS. I got an email from Walmart telling me that they were refunding my money and if I got the masks later a reminder keep or donate or do whatever with it. The masks were due to arrive April 14. Walmart has refunded my money. The masks arrived today. So I guess patience does pay off!

I've been lucky...so far. I ordered a box of surgical masks and payed with AMEX, thinking if I got scammed I could dispute the charge. On the AMEX site it said the charge was in Grenada and I thought "Oh Oh" but the masks came...mailed from someplace in New Jersey. The only thing I am waiting for is a shipment of 91% alcohol sprays and will wait until I receive them before paying the charge.

Yes, I definitely was scammed by a company in China, the 2-3 times this has happened to me with a company outside of the US, but this time I check before purchasing the items and it stated that it was located in Florida. Once the order went through, I found out to main company/or where the items was coming from was China and I canceled the order, but they never stopped it and supposedly shipped it per an email message and I never to this day receive it, nor a refund after asking x3 companies that's affiliated with them, for my money back. I've reported it to BBB, who couldn't locate them even after I gave x3 names they're listed under, and I've reported it to the FTC as well. Don't know if anything will ever be done about it. I have learned not to ever order another thing from any company outside of the US. You have no way of fighting them.

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